I awoke to another zillion emails, but one really caught my eye. It was for New Year’s Day Cornbread from Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo, a specialty food company known for their glorious Heirloom Beans.
Sando wrote, “This recipe comes from my pal Taylor Boetticher of the Fatted Calf Charcuterie. If you’re in the Bay Area, try making your Black Eyed Peas with their bacon or other pork treats. The recipe is true Texas cornbread and it’s perfect with your pot of good fortune. A huge thanks to Taylor’s mother, Star Boetticher, for sharing the recipe and keeping good conditions alive.”
I headed off to the kitchen to preheat the oven. Baking with available ingredients, it turns out that I had to replace the whole milk with 1% milk, and swapped low fat plain Kefir for buttermilk …hoping it would work. And it did! This Cornbread is perfect even with my substitutions, no need to look for any other cornbread recipe, ever.
The cornbread was served with room-temperature salted butter that was blended with honey…and a pot of coffee. ‘Twas a delightful December breakfast. The custard layer is simply genius. For good fortune, I will make it again on New Year’s Day to be served with Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens (recipes coming soon).
Black Eyed Peas are eaten for luck, Collard Greens are symbolic of dollar bills, and Cornbread is symbolic of gold. And we will add a Glazed Spiral Cut Ham to the menu because pigs have long been a symbol of wealth and gluttony. Sounds delicious and lucky, can’t beat that. Here’s to a Prosperous New Year!
French Bistro Trout Amandine with Haricots Verts
Almonds, Dried Currants, Capers, Lemon, Browned Butter, Parsley
The back story for this dish started last summer when I received an email from Mon Ami Gabi Restaurant in Las Vegas regarding their Summer Scratch Off event. I wasn’t particularly interested in the event, but the image of the trout with fresh green beans really caught my eye. It looked so balanced and tasty, I saved it to my computer.
The restaurant describes itself as honoring classic French cuisine, serving traditional French gastronomy in a quaint Parisian bistro, devising fresh takes on classic fare.
On a recent a trip to Vegas, we had to have lunch at our favorite al fresco restaurant. Who can resist sitting outside on The Strip, watching the spectacular choreographed Bellagio water fountains accompanied by Andrea Bocelli & Sarah Brightman singing Con Te Partiro? Not us, not ever. It is a rare visit to Vegas indeed, when we do not have breakfast or lunch at Mon Ami Gabi at Paris Las Vegas. On one trip a while back, I even purchased a set of their plates for my collection.
Thirty years ago in 1988, our community chose sanctuary over sprawl and open land over bulldozers, and launched the Land Conservancy on a journey to preserve and restore open space on the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Southern California.
Palos Verdes Pastoral is the Conservancy’s most important annual event, allowing it to raise support, funds, and awareness for the conservation and management of 1600 acres of permanently protected rare coastal habitat.
Pastoral is an enchanted fundraising dinner that brings people together amidst nature for an exclusive experience at Terranea Resort featuring the best of California handcrafted, organic, and sustainable foods.
This year Pastoral was inspired by the colorful state of Oaxaca, one of Mexico’s major gastronomic centers. It shares many native plant species with the Peninsula; those include lily, sunflower, coastal sage, and cactus. Executive Chef Bernard Ibarra, created a menu with foods sourced from local artisan ingredients and Terranea’s award-winning garden. The menu highlighted staples of Oaxacan cuisine such as squash flowers, sage, prickly pear cactus, dragonfruit, chocolate, and mezcal.
In addition to the camaraderie, gourmet foods, stellar wines, and ambiance that is truly second to none – the evening increases awareness of the important work of the Conservancy in protecting and stewarding our open space and nature. We celebrate the mission of the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy to preserve land and restore habitat for the education and enjoyment of all.
English Pea and Ricotta Toasts
Lodge Bread German Style Rye
Sometimes we want a different kind of toast for breakfast, especially when there are fabulous hand-shelled, sweet and tender, English peas available. So, no disrespect, but move over avocado, and make room for Fresh Pea and Ricotta Toasts.
Fresh sweet peas and crunchy pea shoots, fresh basil and mint, and lemony ricotta top an extraordinary German style rye by Lodge Bread. This heavenly bread is bold and sturdy – made of 100% whole grain dark rye, buttermilk, local beer, sprouted rye berries, and filled with seeds – sesame, nigella, sunflower, pumpkin, and poppy.
Serve this breakfast with tea. English peas, and tea. Of course it’s lovely.
Veggie Broth, Crispy Tofu, Gai Lan
Watermelon Radish, Carrot, Bok Choy, Sesame Chili Oil
Have you received a copy of a food magazine in the mail with a cover photo that absolutely floors you? February 2018 Bon Appetit did that for me. There was no way that I wasn’t going to “Cook The Cover” and make that gorgeous Crispy Tofu in Shiitake Broth.
Alas, time passed and I didn’t make it. But, last Saturday’s trip to the Torrance Farmers Market gave me the inspiration…it came from a vegetarian Korean food booth called Dave’s Gourmet Korean Food with a sample of his hot “Vegee Broth.” It was amazing – complex flavors in a vegetarian broth made with fermented vegetable juice, sea salt, low sodium gluten-free soy sauce, and miso.
As I walked the market, watermelon radish and bok choy remembered from that February magazine cover ended up in my basket. I already had carrots and firm tofu at home.
One ingredient that is not in Bon Appetit’s recipe was beautiful Gai Lan, also known as Chinese broccoli. Slightly bitter and slightly sweet, with tasty broad leaves, petite buds, a few pretty white flowers, and tender stems – this had to be added to my version of the vegetable soup.
Here is the link to the original recipe by Bon Appetit, and my adaptations are listed below. Those in the Los Angeles area can find Dave’s Vegee Broth at various Farmers Markets across the county. If you are not in LA, simply follow the original broth recipe. It will take a little longer but be, no doubt, worth your time.
The Chef of the Century had a crowing Gallic Coq tattooed on his left arm, one he would often flaunt proudly. The rooster is the national bird of France. But could the tattoo also symbolize Paul Bocuse’s veneration for Poulet de Bresse?
Upon learning of the Chef’s passing on January 20th at 91 years-old, French President Emmanuel Macron lamented that his death had chefs everywhere weeping in their kitchens.
Mais oui. Here too.
My love affair with “Chicken and Morels Paul Bocuse” began decades ago in Chicago at a long-gone restaurant named Bistro 110 where fricassée of chicken was served on a bed of fresh sautéed spinach with a morel cream sauce.
The combination was brilliant. The creamy mushroom sauce infused the sautéed spinach and turned it into a French version of steakhouse-creamed-spinach. The synergy of earthy-nutty morels and impeccably cooked chicken resulted in a timeless dish. It was rich but not overly so, it was balanced in the style that the Chef was known for…classic yet modern.
In 2011 when Paul Bocuse was named “Chef of the Century” by the Culinary Institute of America, Jacques Pépin said, “Certainly he did more than any other chef in the world that I can think of to bring the chefs in the dining room and to make the profession respectable and to make us who we are now…Now the chefs are stars and it’s because of Paul Bocuse.”
For my birthday, I hosted a luncheon in honor of the Chef and served Chicken Fricassée inspired by him. Here is my recipe.
I never met an Ottolenghi recipe that I didn’t like. And Curried Red Lentil Soup is no exception. The Israeli-British chef describes his soup as “healthy and hearty, spicy and straightforward, frugal and fragrant in equal measure.”
He touted his svelte recipe as an antidote to rich holiday foods…but since those holidays are now a distant memory, I’m garnishing with a generous topping of irresistible crispy fried shallots.
Curried Lentil Soup with Tomato and Coconut Recipe